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If Apple was in the business of making movies, the iPad would arguably be its biggest bet yet. So it's fitting that Apple used Hollywood's biggest night to let consumers know that the iPad will be 'in theatres' on April 3.

Last night, the company, which now has a market cap just shy of $200bn, aired its first television ad for the iPad on the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. The 30-second spot provides a visual (and musical) depiction of the iPad and its capabilities, and concludes with the words "April 3" and "iPad".

With that April 3 date now less than a month away, the question is: will the iPad be a 'blockbuster' or a 'box office failure'? Given Apple's track record, it wouldn't be surprising if the iPad turns out to be the tablet computing equivalent of the film Avatar, which has grossed well over $1.5bn globally.

But what if the iPad doesn't sell? There are a few good reasons to believe that Apple has its toughest challenge yet in convincing consumers to say "iPaid for the iPad":

  • From 3G pricing and Flash support to accessories and the lack of a camera, there are a number of unanswered questions surrounding the iPad. These questions could conceivably give consumers pause, which would of course hinder sales in the process.
  • A recent survey by AdMob found that only one in six iPhone users currently plan to purchase the iPad. While that still represents millions of potential iPad buyers, it's hardly the most encouraging figure. AdMob's survey only had 960 participants and AdMob is owned by Apple rival Google, so I wouldn't read too much into the survey. But if it's anywhere near accurate, it would support the numerous iPad critics who have voiced concern about the challenges Apple will face in trying to create interest in an entirely new category of mobile device.

Again, Apple's track record is such that it's hard to write off Steve Jobs and crew. But if theory becomes reality and the iPad gets off to a slow start, it would be an interesting test for a company that is so used to 'getting it right' (or close to it) on the first try in recent years. Would Apple be able to reset expectations and adjust the iPad's positioning? Would it listen to iPad critics who have complained about, say, the lack of a camera and Flash support? Or would Apple respond with hubris and arrogance?

Great companies are defined not only by their successes, but by how they address shortcomings and failures. We know that Apple is capable of producing great products but I for one wouldn't mind seeing what it does with one that needs a bit of work. We'll soon find out if the iPad is that product.

Patricio Robles

Published 8 March, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (3)

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Paul Lomax, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at Dennis Publishing

It doesn't look like the actor in the TV ad is actually holding the iPad when he rotates. Looks fake. Which makes me wonder how comfortable it's going to be trying to hold it with one hand whilst touching with the other. Awkward resting on knees I think...

If only it had some kind of keyboard on a hinge, that would make it so much more comfortable to rest on your lap. Oh, wait...

over 6 years ago

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veiko herne

Like I wrote to my mobile blog wap.mobiblogi.com long time ago: iPad is totally overpriced. Who will spend $500 to get a device to read eBooks?

Lack of multitasking, Flash support, etc makes it worse than any cheap smartphone.

over 6 years ago

Alan Carmody

Alan Carmody, Head of Design and Technology at Midas Design Consultants Limited

It will be interesting to see how well the iPad sells. I'm sure there will be enough Apple enthusiasts to ensure the product is commercially viable but will that be enough for commercial success? Credit to Apple for taking a gamble with something different, if nothing else, a lot of knowledge will be gained that product designers on smaller budgets can learn from. For readers interested in devices that bridge the digital and real world, check out this TED talk by Pranav Mistry, there's a lot of work to do before there is a commercial product but it's an interesting application of technology.

over 6 years ago

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